|What is organic coffee?
Organic coffee is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production
systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build
biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic farmers abide by the law.
What does it mean to be certified?
In order for coffee to be certified and sold as organic in the United States, it must be produced in accordance with U.S.
standards for organic production and certified by an agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S.
requirements for coffee production include farming without synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for three
years and a sustainable crop rotation plan to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and control for pests.
What is the size of the U.S. market?
Organic Trade Association data shows that coffee sales in the United States amounted to approximately $110 million in
2006, up 24 percent from the previous year. Other studies show the figure could be much higher. A 2007 survey by
Daniele Giovannucci and the Costa Rica-based Sustainable Markets Intelligence Center (CIMS) reported that
approximately 65 million pounds of organic coffee were imported into the United States in 2006 with a retail value of
approximately $617 million. The authors estimate the organic coffee sector represented 2.3 percent of the total U.S. green
coffee imports in 2006. The 33 percent annual average growth rate for the organic category documented by the
researchers between 2000 and 2007 dwarfs the estimated 1.5-2 percent projected annual growth rate of the conventional
Where is this coffee grown?
This coffee is grown in 40 countries including Bolivia, Burundi, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao
PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timore-
Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, United States (Hawaii), Venezuela, Vietnam, and
Zambia. The leading producer countries are Peru, Ethiopia, and Mexico.
What is the size of the world market?
Global sales reached 67,000 metric tons (or about 148 million pounds) in 2006, a 56 percent increase from 2003 when
approximately 42,000 MT were exported. Forty-four percent of the total was consumed in North America, of which
approximately 85 percent was consumed in the United States.
What products are in the marketplace?
These coffee products now on the market include decaffeinated, caffeinated, flavored and instant coffees, ice cream and
yogurt, coffee sodas, hard candies, and chocolate covered beans.
What do the labels mean?
The USDA organic seal can appear on any coffee product that contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients and that has
been certified as organic by a certification agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The coffee may also
carry a label saying “100 percent organic” or “Organic.”
Fair Trade certification focuses on labor and trade standards to provide small-farmer co-operatives a guaranteed price
above the conventional market. Not all Fair Trade Certifiedä coffee is necessarily organic. However, Fair Trade
CertifiedTM does require strict environmental stewardship such as prohibiting the use of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) and the most hazardous pesticides. Seventy-eight percent of all Fair Trade CertifiedTM coffee sold in the United
States is certified organic. In the United States, transactions must be audited by TransFair USA to use a Fair Trade
CertifiedTM label. Certified organic producers of Fair Trade coffee receive at least $1.55/lb (as of June 1, 2008).
Bird Friendly® can only be used by operators that meet inspection and certification requirements of the Smithsonian
Migratory Bird Center. All certified Bird Friendly® coffee must also be certified organic. Bird Friendly® certification
requires that the coffee be shade-grown with a wide variety of native shade trees and other shade-providing species. No
synthetic chemicals can be used in the processing of Bird Friendly® coffee. For information on other eco-labels that may
appear on organic coffee, see www.eco-labels.org.
Article Source: Organic Trade Association
Growing 100% Organic
Facts About Organic Fair Trade Coffee
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